Nightly Rituals Can Help Insomnia in Natural Way
Have you ever found it difficult to sleep in a strange place, such as a hotel or a friend’s house? This is because our minds and bodies have become used to the usual nightly rituals we partake in when in the comfort of our home. Our body and mind knows and feels comfortable with our beds, bedding, atmosphere, and even the smell of our homes.
We also become accustomed to the regular things we do before going to bed each night, all of which can contribute to a good night’s sleep. If you don’t have rituals before going to bed, you should consider developing some as a way to combat every day insomnia. Nightly rituals can help train your brain to know that it is time to sleep so you can fall asleep quickly after getting into bed.
Common Nightly Rituals
Nighttime rituals can be mundane or they can be an elaborate process. Simple rituals can be things like checking that the doors and windows are secure and locked, shutting off the television, turning off lights, brushing your teeth, using the toilet, and possibly removing makeup or putting your hair down from a pony tail. While these things sound simple enough, when done repeatedly and consistently they can put your brain into sleep mode and you will have an easier time falling to sleep.
Whatever rituals you come up with, try to do them in the same order and at the same time every night on a consistent nightly basis. Remember that you are training the mind to associate these actions with sleep, and so these rituals need to become routine.
If you have a white noise machine, turn it on before going to sleep and allow it to block out extraneous noises. Your brain will then be properly prepared for sleep and you will be able to fall asleep safely and possibly without the need to use prescription sedative medicine.
Choose an Elaborate Ritual
If the simple activities you do before bedtime are not enough to train your brain for sleep, try some of these rituals.
Do some simple yoga poses in your bed. Yoga is comprised of different “asanas” or poses along with deep and regular breathing with mindful meditation. Some poses that are conducive to sleep involve lying in bed with your butt up against the wall and your legs straight up in the air along the wall. You can breathe comfortably like this with the blood rushing to your brain, adding to a feeling of sleepiness. You can follow that up with “child’s pose” in which you sit on your heels and bend forward with arms outstretched before you and your forehead as close to the ground as possible.
Similarly, you can finish a yoga routine on your back with your knees drawn up and the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to fall out to the side, supported with pillows if necessary. Your hands can rest at your side, palms up. These poses are gentle stretching exercises that get the kinks out of your muscles and joints so that you can rest with relaxed muscles.
You can finish your yoga positions with the “corpse pose” which involves lying on your back with arms and legs extended, meditating on your breath so that you can be in a position to fall asleep. Several other poses exist that help to relax and stimulate muscles that are linked to better sleep.
Simple meditation can involve sitting or lying on your bed, focusing on breathing rhythmically and relaxing your muscles using progressive muscle relaxation. You can meditate by saying a syllable with each breath, such as the commonly used syllable “ohm.” You can also meditate by imagining yourself in a wonderful and comforting place, such as a beach or a forest. This is guided imagery and it can take you out of the stressors of the day. One of the best aspects of meditation is that you can train yourself to let go of all stressful and negative thoughts that can interfere with sleep.
Baths with a few drops of essential oils that promote sleep, such as chamomile and lavender can be wonderful nightly rituals to relax the body and mind.
Some people pray before they go to bed, which trains the brain that it is time to sleep. One interesting technique is actually a pagan ritual. In this ritual, you draw an imaginary circle around you and your bed. You then imagine yourself going to the four corners starting in the East and going clockwise around the circle.
At each stopping point, you ask God or the goddess to protect you during sleep. When all four corners have been invoked, you imagine yourself in a soft white circle or cone that protects you while you sleep. If you do this ritual enough times, it becomes habit and calms anxiety in preparation for sleep.
Night Time Rituals Used by Health Pros
The science is clear rituals create behaviors that reduce stress. A study completed by the American Friends of Tel Aviv University discovered that this isn’t just true of humans, but of animals as well. A morning ritual can start your day on a positive note; an evening ritual is equally as important to your health and well-being.
Turn Off Your Phone
Put your cell phone down and turn the television off (forget even having a television in your bedroom!). While you don’t need to sit in complete silence, your brain needs time to switch off from its taxing day of information overload. Flashing images, dramatic scenes, or violence, can overstimulate your brain, which will make it difficult to actually turn off to get to sleep.
The same applies to using a computer, or smart phone, the backlit devices keep your brain active. Consider classical music, or any other genre that you find soothing. You can experiment with music until you find the one that serves your purpose. Allowing yourself an hour of relaxation before bed is ideal; you can incorporate it into your stretching ritual.
Cherry Juice in the Evening
You’ve probably read about starting your day with a glass of warm water with fresh lemon to kick start your system. Everyone knows to avoid highly caffeinated drinks like coffee and cola, have you heard about tart cherry juice to finish your day, though? You are more likely to be familiar with melatonin, and it just so happens that tart cherries are high in it, so having a glass of tart cherry juice an hour before bed is a fantastic way to let your body know it’s time to unwind.
A glass of tart cherry juice will increase the amount of melatonin that is in your system and signals your brain that sleep time is impending. Don’t fight it, embrace it. A study by the European Journal of Nutrition completed a study on a random group of participants, which showed the benefits to sleep after consuming cherry juice.
Most people start their day with some form of stretching, but having a light stretching session before bed is vital, too. It isn’t necessary to work up a sweat, you don’t want to stimulate your body and mind before bed, however you do want to get to sleep without aches and pains. A few basic yoga postures will help your body relax, aligning your body and preventing you from waking up with stiff joints and aching muscles. Consider it a quick calibration for the body.
Get Comfortable First
Take a look at your sleeping environment and consider what impediments could be preventing you from getting a decent night’s sleep. Your room should be quiet, dark, and cool.
Quiet- while you can’t control outside noise, you could employ the use of earplugs if you live in a loud area.
Dark- using a blackout shade to keep your room devoid of light can massively improve your sleep.
Cool- that doesn’t involve cranking up the air conditioning, but turning up the heat is equally as counterproductive. There is nothing more frustrating than waking up in the middle of the night sweating, or shivering. As you sleep, your body’s core temperature drops so it’s always wise to have an extra blanket at the foot of your bed just in case.
Ensure that your pillow, mattress, and bedding are comfortable for you. It can be tempting to let pets (and kids) sleep with you, but they tend to be quite disruptive to your sleep pattern, so buy Rover his own bed and limit sleepovers with your children to the result of nasty nightmares.